UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Norman

Upshaw Almost There

Upshaw Almost There
Andrew Upshaw

Andrew Upshaw is one day away from going wire-to-wire to secure his first-ever FLW Tour victory, and as long as the pressure and the nine pros behind him don’t knock him off course, the Tulsa, Okla., pro has a game plan to make it happen.

The Tour’s fifth event of the season, presented by Lowrance, has been a slugfest to this point. Cherokee Lake in eastern Tennessee is showing out, and while total weights aren’t what would usually constitute a “slugfest,” the sheer volume of keeper bass the field has landed this week is nothing short of extraordinary.

Upshaw's day two story

Day three coverage blog

FLW Live from day three

Complete results

Behind Upshaw, a stacked top 10 looms large. Only 1 pound, 10 ounces separates the three-day leader from Tour vet Tom Monsoor, and Upshaw is only 4 pounds, 15 ounces in front of Tim Cales, who sits in 10th place entering Sunday.

With so many anglers catching tons of fish – and so little margin for error – Upshaw has already started feeling the pressure. Fortunately, he has a safety net to help calm him down.

“To lead wire to wire is just crazy … It’s indescribable,” Upshaw admits. “Where I’m at right now, I’m trying to keep it all together, but in [the weigh-in] line I felt like I needed to throw up every five seconds.

“As far as nerves go, I’ve dealt with high-stress situations before – not just in tournament fishing but football and basketball and everything like that. Tomorrow I get to go have fun. I’ve got my family here to calm me down so everything should be fine.”

Andrew Upshaw

Upshaw’s family made the trip from Oklahoma on Friday after he started piecing together another nice bag and after already having secured the day-one lead. As it turns out, their presence could make the difference between a strong top-10 finish and his first Tour win.

Despite the boost his family’s arrival gave him, Upshaw started to feel the pressure Saturday when his bite started slow and he began the day with a trio of fish that weren’t long enough to throw in the box.

“I pulled up where I wanted to start, and I caught a non-keeper immediately, and that’s only my second non-keeper of the week,” he explains. “A few minutes later I caught another non-keeper, and then I caught another non-keeper. It really started spinning me out a little bit.”

Upshaw admits his game plan was inherently “high-risk, high-reward,” due in part to fishing an area that was susceptible to wakes from passing boats shortly after takeoff. Fishing for bedding bass, he needed some calmer water to keep those fish on their beds and ready to protect them.

Andrew Upshaw

With that in mind, Upshaw plans to change things up on Championship Sunday. Instead of starting the morning in the same place, despite the prospect of lesser boat traffic due to the 10-boat field, he plans on running a new pattern to try to catch a limit while his fish re-settle from the early-morning water disruption.

“Every morning, there’s so many wakes that it’s pushing the fish off the bed for the first 20 minutes and then they get re-set and then you’ll catch them,” he says. “That’s been the biggest issue this week for me is I hadn’t been able to get them re-set in that first 20 or 30 minutes, so I’m just going to try to be smart about it, go catch me a limit in the first 30 minutes and then go try to catch big ones the rest of the day.”

Catching big ones is the name of the game, but Upshaw knows it starts with getting five fish in the box. He wants to get on them early, if for no other reason than to lift that weight off his shoulders.

“Obviously, guys are busting them right off the bat, and I need to be that guy tomorrow,” he says. “I might not, but that’s the plan.”

When you lead wire-to-wire through three days, it’s safe to say things have pretty much gone according to plan. As long as his new game plan pans out Sunday, there’s very little stopping Upshaw from making it four in a row for his first Tour win.

 

Tom Monsoor

2. Tom Monsoor – La Crosse, Wis. – 50-10 (15)

Sixteen-year Tour vet Tom Monsoor bucked the trend of fishing for bedding smallmouth with finesse tackle this week, opting instead for old faithful – a swim jig he made himself. That little white swim jig paid off Saturday to the tune of the biggest bag of the day, a 17-6 stringer full of smallmouths.

Part of what precipitated Monsoor’s big day was fishing a new area he hadn’t fished since the practice period. It was a large cut at the south end of the lake that held a few big fish that were in the right place to hammer his jig.

“Today was the first time [fishing that spot],” he says. “In practice I caught a couple in there. Everything I fished up above, it seems like you need to find fish – dumb ones that haven’t seen my jig.”

Within about 20 minutes, Monsoor had three sizeable keepers in his box to cull out some dinks, all from that stretch. He plans to start there again tomorrow, but he’s a little concerned about the fact that the fish he caught in that section of the lake seem to have spawned out already.

“It seems like they’re spawned out down there,” he adds. “I was trying to target the ones coming up to spawn.”

Monsoor says he’ll try again in that area Sunday, but he’s ready to run up the lake for prespawners or bedding fish if that pattern dries up.

 

Dylan Hays

3. Dylan Hays – El Dorado, Ark. – 50-1 (15)

After keeping his fishing location under wraps much of the week, Dylan Hays was finally ready to discuss the strategy that has him in third place entering day four: flipping for big green bass way up in the Holston River. It’s a pattern that almost no one else got on this week, either because of how good the smallmouth fishing has been or because it takes a little while to make the run up to where the river feeds into the lake.

Hays started his practice up the river, but after checking in with other Tour pros (who were all hammering on brown fish in the main lake), he decided to give that a go for a couple days. It didn’t quite pan out, so he went back to where his week started.

“The only reason I did it was because I couldn’t get the smallmouth going,” he admits. “I started practice up there [in the river] and the first bite I got like the fifth cast of the week I caught a 3 1/2-pounder, so I wanted to do that.

“At 7 o’clock Tuesday night I ran up there and I found those fish. I got bit like every other flip. It was incredible. It was all little ones and then I caught like a 4 1/2-pounder, then I shook a big one off and then five flips later I shook another big one off.”

From then on, it was all about catching the green ones, and Hays will stick to that plan tomorrow knowing he’ll have the river all to himself.

 

Grae Buck

4. Grae Buck – Harleysville, Penn. – 49-4 (15)

As far as eventful days go, Grae Buck maybe had the most interesting of all the anglers who fished on day three. The three-year Tour pro wasn’t so much hunting fish as he was his own white whale.

Early in the day, Buck found a smallmouth on a bed that threw his hook about 20 feet from the boat. He came back to that spot about 45 minutes later and tried again, this time getting the fish to within netting distance. What happened next was a great story whether he managed to weigh it in or not.

“I hooked her again and this time I was playing her and I had the net ready,” he explains. “I went to scoop her and she pulled off, and I saw her still and I thought I could reach her and I couldn’t and I went in. Rod and reel and net went over. I caught the rod with my feet. I got ahold of the net and got them both in. I had to go back to the Power-Pole to climb in.”

It became personal at that point, and Buck once again returned to that spot about 45 minutes later.

“She bit and I set the hook and broke it,” he recounts. “I watched her jump at least six times. I was mad and I left pretty much right after that.”

Buck had no quit in him, though, and he knew he might need that fish to make the top-10 cut. So, at 3:14 – just 16 minutes before check-in – Buck went back again and this time landed his 3-plus-pounder.

With the half pound Buck culled, he ensconced himself firmly in the top five with a great chance to make some waves in the final round.

To watch his dive in the lake, click here

Andy Young

5. Andy Young – Isle, Minn. – 49-0 (15)

Andy Young is just a man who loves fishing, especially when he’s fishing for smallmouths.

The Isle, Minn., pro has been crushing smallmouth all week, and he’s been doing it in mostly the same water, doing mostly the same things – targeting spawners with finesse tactics.

Today, Young did run a little new water, but his pattern is so repeatable that it made it pretty easy to find new fish.

“I did the same stuff all day,” he says. “I ran a lot of new stuff. I pretty much know what to look for, so you just drive until you see what you like and start fishing and they’re there.

“I pretty much caught fish the whole time. I probably culled out a 15-pound limit. I may be able to catch most of them tomorrow because I think most of them are spawning. They’re moving up. They’re coming to me.”

Young makes it look easy, but it’s anything but easy to fish well enough all week to do it again on Sunday. With potentially volatile weather moving in tomorrow, Young jokes that he’s looking forward to the challenge.

“It is what it is. I like adversity. The harder it is, the better I do.”

 

News and Notes

 

Derrick Snavely

A week of limits

With as good as the fishing has been on Cherokee this week, it really comes as no surprise that all 30 pros who fished on Saturday weighed in a limit. Fewer than 20 anglers failed to weigh in five fish on Thursday and even fewer than that struggled to land five keepers on day two. There isn’t much weight separating 1st from 10th, and it’s a good bet 10 limits tomorrow will make for an exciting final weigh-in.

 

Bradford Beavers

Fool me twice

Forecasts called for more rain than was delivered on both days two and three of this event. With the exception of a couple isolated showers, it was downright beautiful most of Friday and Saturday.

Still, the forecast is a little more ominous heading into Sunday, with multiple potentially severe storms expected to move into the area and stick around. Rain and wind haven’t done much to the bite to this point, but if it gets worse on Sunday, it’ll be interesting to see what it could do to the top 10 anglers’ weights.

 

Tim Cales

A truly tight race

Less than 5 pounds separates 10th place (Tim Cales at 47-5) from first (Andrew Upshaw at 52-4). At the top, Tom Monsoor only trails by 1-10 and Dylan Hays is only 9 ounces behind him. Additionally, only 10 pounds, 3 ounces separated first from 30th this week, and 23 anglers caught at least 45 pounds over three days of fishing.

Get ready for a wild finish on Sunday.

 

Top 10 pros

1. Andrew Upshaw – Tulsa, Okla. – 52-4 (15)

2. Tom Monsoor – La Crosse, Wis. – 50-10 (15)

3. Dylan Hays – El Dorado, Ark. – 50-1 (15)

4. Grae Buck – Harleysville, Penn. – 49-4 (15)

5. Andy Young – Isle, Minn. – 49-0 (15)

6. Matt Becker – Finleyville, Penn. – 48-13 (15)

7. Tim Frederick – Leesburg, Fla. – 48-3 (15)

8. Jason Reyes – Huffman, Texas – 48-3 (15)

9. Derrick Snavely – Piney Flats, Tenn. – 48-2 (15)

10. Tim Cales – Sandstone, W. Va. – 47-5 (15)

Complete results

Tags: justin-onslow  headline-story  2019-04-11-cherokee-lake 

Au Rallies for Clear Lake Win

Au Rallies for Clear Lake Win

Steadily climbing the leaderboard all week, Tai Au dropped 26 pounds, 4 ounces today – the biggest bag of the week – to jump from fourth and claim his second title of the 2020 Toyota Series Western Division season. With 63-3 overall, Au wraps a phenomenal season where he won on Havasu back in March, placed 10th on the California Delta in August and closed the season with yet another win this week on Clear Lake. In winning, Au also wrapped the Strike King Angler of the Year title for the Western Division for the first time in his career. READ MORE »

White Rolling at Clear Lake

White Rolling at Clear Lake

Fishing was still good on day two of the Toyota Series Western Division finale at Clear Lake, though there were notably less 20-pound bags brought to the scale. Still, day-one leader Tom White managed 19 pounds, 5 ounces today to back up his 24-12 weight from Thursday and will carry a 5-10 lead heading into Saturday’s final round. This would be White’s first FLW win if he can fend off the nine other hungry pros behind him. READ MORE »

White Drops 24-12 at Clear Lake

White Drops 24-12 at Clear Lake

Tom White of Costa Mesa, Calif., fished the first two events of the Toyota Series Western Division season as a co-angler where he found decent success. Now, in the final event of the season White stepped up to the boater side and took the lead on Clear Lake after day one with a 24-pound, 12-ounce limit. The former Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI angler will hold close to a 5-pound lead over Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour pro Jared Lintner heading into day two. While 4 pounds would be a decent lead on a lot of fisheries, this is Clear Lake, and anything can happen tomorrow. READ MORE »

Big Bags on Deck at Clear Lake

Big Bags on Deck at Clear Lake

The Toyota Series Western Division wraps its season this week on famed Clear Lake in California. The lake is frequently noted as one of the best bass fisheries in the country and Clear Lake is shaping up to kick out plenty of bass this week. READ MORE »

Whitehead Tops on Pickwick

Whitehead Tops on Pickwick

Boater Christopher Whitehead of Tupelo, Miss., brought a two-day total of 10 bass to the scale weighing 33 pounds, 1 ounce to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Mississippi Division Super-Tournament at Pickwick Lake. For his victory, Whitehead earned $5,942. READ MORE »

Tramel Rolls at Old Hickory

Tramel Rolls at Old Hickory

Boater Josh Tramel of Smithville, Tenn., brought a two-day total of 10 bass to the scale this weekend weighing 34 pounds, 5 ounces to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Music City Division Super-Tournament at Old Hickory Lake. Tramel earned a total of $5,540 for his victory.  READ MORE »

Topwater Gives Trim the W

Topwater Gives Trim the W

Boater Nick Trim of Galesville, Wis., brought a two-day total of 10 bass to the scale weighing 34 pounds, 9 ounces to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Great Lakes Division Super-Tournament at the Mississippi River. For his victory, Trim earned $6,690. READ MORE »

Langford Wins on Smith Mountain

Langford Wins on Smith Mountain

Boater Todd Langford of Great Falls, Va., brought a two-day total of 10 bass to the scale weighing 33 pounds, 4 ounces to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Piedmont Division Super-Tournament at Smith Mountain Lake. For his victory, Langford earned $5,065. READ MORE »

Rockefeller Frogs on Clarks Hill

Rockefeller Frogs on Clarks Hill

Boater Joshua Rockefeller of Harlem, Ga., brought a two-day total of nine bass to the scale weighing 21 pounds even to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine South Carolina Division Super-Tournament at Clarks Hill Lake. For his victory, Rockefeller earned $4,668. READ MORE »

Strong Day One Carries Sifers

Strong Day One Carries Sifers

Boater Jeramiah Sifers of Sellersburg, Ind., brought a two-day total of 10 bass to the scale this weekend weighing 22 pounds, 14 ounces to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Hoosier Division Super-Tournament at the Rough River. Sifers earned a total of $6,917 for his victory. READ MORE »

Top Patterns and Baits from Kentucky Lake

Top Patterns and Baits from Kentucky Lake

Kentucky Lake has the potential to churn out some big bags – look no further than the 2019 Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Open, when 21 teams weighed in more than 20 pounds on day one alone – but the 2020 iteration wasn’t as friendly to the college anglers who took to her waters this week. Here’s the skinny on how the top 10 teams caught their fish this week and what they caught them with. READ MORE »

Lieblong Again at Dardanelle

Lieblong Again at Dardanelle

Jason Lieblong is no stranger to Toyota Series titles on Lake Dardanelle. He claimed his first back in August of 2015 and five years later thanks to a final-day bag worth 15 pounds, 15 ounces (the biggest of the event) Lieblong added his second Series trophy to the mantle. The Conway, Ark., pro finished the event with 40-9 overall, moving up the leaderboard every day of the tournament. For winning the Plains Division opener presented by Fish-Intel, Lieblong took home over $70,000 thanks largely to the FLW PHOENIX BONUS, which earned him and extra $35,000. READ MORE »

Dobson Grabs Second Toyota Series W

Dobson Grabs Second Toyota Series W

Weighing 18 pounds and 9 ounces on day three for a 59-3 total, Scott Dobson moved from second to first to win the Toyota Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River. The win is Dobson’s second in Toyota Series competition and his eighth overall with FLW. For the win, Dobson takes home $27,534 and further burnishes his record as one of the best smallmouth anglers on the planet.   READ MORE »

Bennett Takes Dardanelle Lead

Bennett Takes Dardanelle Lead

Backing up his day-one weight of 13 pounds, 6 ounces, Joe Bennett brought 13-14 to the scale to take the lead at Lake Dardanelle in the Toyota Series Plains Division opener presented by Fish-Intel. Bennett will carry 1-1 lead into Saturday’s final round over Kevin Riney as he looks to grab his first victory with FLW. READ MORE »

Burton Edges Ahead at the Detroit River

Burton Edges Ahead at the Detroit River

Day two of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River saw the pros stuck in the river itself again due to the wind. Moving up from fourth place into the lead, Wilson Burton weighed 20 pounds, 4 ounces to get up to a 40-11 total. With the only 20-pound bag of the day, Burton slipped past Scott Dobson by just one ounce, who weighed 19-12 and sits behind him with a 40-10 total. READ MORE »

Montevallo Takes College Open Title

Montevallo Takes College Open Title

As tough as Kentucky Lake was fishing this week in the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Open, Grayson Morris and Jacob Pfundt of the University of Montevallo leading after day one and finishing the job on Thursday resulted in one of the more impressive wins you’ll see. After weighing in a day-one best 12-13, the duo backed it up with another 12-7 on day two for the victory, displaying the kind of consistency it takes to grind it out in tough fishing conditions. For their efforts, Morris and Pfundt were awarded a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-hp Mercury outboard. READ MORE »

King Tops Day 1 at Dardanelle 

King Tops Day 1 at Dardanelle 

Zach King of Clarksville, Ark., used a Heddon Zara Spook to catch 14 pounds, 11 ounces claim the day one lead in the Toyota Series Plains Division event on Lake Dardanelle presented by Fish-Intel. King will take a 6-ounce lead over Matt Wood of Jessieville, Ark., into day two.  READ MORE »

Dardanelle Midday Update – Day 1

Dardanelle Midday Update – Day 1

Thursday’s opening round of the Toyota Series Plains Division opener at Lake Dardanelle followed the script many anglers predicted. Despite many favorable conditions at the beginning of a peak fishing season, muddy water and bright sunshine made fishing difficult across the 34,000-acre Arkansas River impoundment. READ MORE »

Stokes Leads on the Detroit River

Stokes Leads on the Detroit River

Strong winds kept the pros in the Toyota Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River pinned to the actual river, but the fishing was still very good. Plenty of anglers brought in 17 pounds or more, and the leaders are all concentrated around the 20-pound mark. In first, Troy Stokes of Brownstown, Mich., weighed 21 pounds, 4 ounces to kick things off. READ MORE »

Detroit River Midday Update – Day 1

Detroit River Midday Update – Day 1

Right off the bat, the anglers in the field at the Toyota Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River were thrown a curveball by the weather. This morning, with increasing wind forecasts, tournament officials made Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair off-limits, thereby penning up the 87 pros and co-anglers on the American side of the Detroit River. READ MORE »